K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Prehistory, contact, and the Lost Colony
First part of a North Carolina history text for secondary students, covering the land, American Indians before contact with Europeans, Spanish exploration, the Roanoke colony, and the Columbian Exchange.
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  • The Columbian Exchange: When Christopher Columbus and his crew arrived in the New World, two biologically distinct worlds were brought into contact. The animal, plant, and bacterial life of these two worlds began to mix in a process called the Columbian Exchange. The results of this exchange recast the biology of both regions and altered the history of the world.
  • Peoples of the Piedmont: In the years between 1000 and 1200 CE, Native life in the north and central Piedmont hadn’t changed much from prior Woodland times. People still lived in small hamlets whose houses strung out along river and stream banks. At times, the hamlets sat empty when people left to hunt and gather wild foods. But times were about to change. Around 900 CE, corn agriculture began. As a result, population began to grow, people began gathering in larger villages, and conflicts erupted.
  • Disease and catastrophe: Of all the kinds of life exchanged when the Old and New Worlds met, lowly germs had the greatest impact. Europeans and later Africans brought smallpox and a host of other diseases with them to America, where those diseases killed as much as 90 percent of the native population of two continents. Europeans came away lucky -- with only a few tropical diseases from Africa and, probably, syphilis from the New World. In America, disease destoyed civilizations.

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Countless animals, plants, and microorganisms crossed the Atlantic Ocean with European explorers and colonists in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. This chart lists some of the organisms that had the greatest impact on human society worldwide.

Old World New World New World Old World
Domestic animals
  • horses
  • cattle
  • pigs
  • sheep
  • goats
  • chickens
  • turkeys
  • llamas
  • alpacas
  • guinea pigs
  • rice
  • wheat
  • barley
  • oats
  • coffee
  • sugar cane
  • citrus fruits
  • bananas
  • melons
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • maize (corn)
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • cassava
  • peanuts
  • tobacco
  • squash
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • pumpkins
  • cacao (the source of chocolate)
  • sunflowers
  • pineapples
  • avocados
  • vanilla
  • smallpox
  • measles
  • mumps
  • malaria
  • yellow fever
  • influenza
  • whooping cough
  • typhus
  • chicken pox
  • the common cold
  • syphilis (possibly)

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • 8.C.1 Understand how different cultures influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.C.1.1 Explain how exploration and colonization influenced Africa, Europe and the Americas (e.g. Columbian exchange, slavery and the decline of the American Indian populations)....